Author Archives: From Poverty to Power

How can research help promote empowerment and accountability?

In the development business, DFID is a research juggernaut (180 dedicated staff, £345m annual budget, according to the ad for a new boss for its Research and Evidence Division). So it’s good news that they are consulting researchers, NGOs etc tomorrow on their next round of funding for research on e…

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What would persuade the aid business to ‘think and work politically’?

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Some wonks from the ‘thinking and working politically’ (TWP) network discussed its influencing strategy last week. There were some people with proper jobs there, who demanded Chatham House Rules, which happily means I don’t have to remember who said what (or credit anyone). The discussion was intere…

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Why premature deindustrialization is really bad news for development

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One of the many positives about development is that lots of good stuff is happening much earlier in a country’s trajectory – on average, falling infant mortality, access to healthcare and education, rights, democracy etc all take place at lower levels of GDP per capita than in the past. Unfortunatel…

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Are developing countries heading for another debt crisis? And if so, what is anyone doing about…

Skating on thin ice is an occupational hazard in my job, but it was really cracking underfoot at a recent Chatham House Rules roundtable on ‘debt crisis prevention in developing countries’. The only way to survive is to stay quiet, nod and look thoughtful when people refer to completely unintelligib…

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What are governments doing on inequality? Great new cross-country data

Oxfam and Oxford University held a big inequality conference last week, timed to coincide with Davos and the launch of our new pre Davosbriefing (massive media coverage – kudos to author Deborah Hardoon and Oxfam press team). I generally find conferences pretty disturbing. This one at least spared u…

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When will we reach Peak Inequality?

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Post Davos, Max Lawson, Oxfam’s Head of Global Policy and Campaigns, is still trying to get his head around the inequality stats Last year it was 85 people; this year it’s down to just 80 individuals who have the same wealth as the bottom 3.5 billion people. By next year the top 1% will own more wea…

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Why Bill and Melinda’s Annual Letter is both exciting and disappointing

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Judging by his latest annual letter, if you could bottle and sell Bill Gates’ optimism, you’d probably make even more money than he has from software. In what they call a ‘big bet’ (actually, more like a prediction), the letter sets out Bill and Melinda’s personal version of some post-MDG goals for …

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14 ways for aid agencies to better promote active citizenship

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As you may have noticed, I’ve been writing a series of 10 case studies of Oxfam’s work in promoting ‘active citizenship’, plus a synthesis paper. They cover everything from global campaigns to promoting women’s leadership to labour rights. They are now all finished and up on the website. Phew.

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Davos: new briefing on global wealth, inequality and an update of that 85 richest = 3.5 billion…

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This is Davos week, and over on the Oxfam Research team’s excellent new Mind the Gap blog, Deborah Hardoon has an update on the mind-boggling maths of global inequality . Wealth data from Credit Suisse, finds that the 99% have been getting less and less of the economic pie over the past few ye…

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Where do the world’s poorest people actually live?

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Has it ever struck you as pretty bonkers that we usually discuss poverty at national level, equating giant countries like India, with tiny islands whose population would disappear without trace in a single Indian city? If so, you, along with happy poverty nerds everywhere, should check out today’s M…

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Measuring the difficult stuff & learning from the results

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I’m not generally a big fan of measurement fetishism (too crude, too blind to complexity and systems thinking). When I used to (mis)manage the Oxfam research team and wanted a few thousand quid for some research grant, I had to list numbers of beneficiaries (men and women). As research is a global p…

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Let’s Talk About Sex: why sexual satisfaction and pleasure should be on the international…

This guest post is by Chloe Safier (@chloelenas), Regional Gender Lead for Oxfam in Southern Africa, with thoughtful contributions from Marc Wegerif I was sitting at dinner with my Oxfam colleagues on a Sunday night, just before a country strategy meeting. Over grilled fish and cokes, I mentioned an…

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9 Ways to get northern constituencies involved in changing the world

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Like everyone else, if Buzzfeed is any guide, I love a good list. I’m also increasingly obsessed with theories of change. So imagine my joy when I read Exfamer May Miller-Dawkins’ paper ‘9 Ways to Change the World’, which offers not one, but two lists. The paper is an attempt to come up with a…

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Amartya Sen on dangers of climate change ‘obsession’

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Amartya Sen has an important piece out in the New Republic magazine, on the links between environment and development. It’s quite long, so I thought I’d offer my precis service. He argues that the attention to climate change is disproportionate, not because we should think less about it,…

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